In response to COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued a statewide judicial emergency Order on March 18, 2020, requiring all Pennsylvania courts to be generally closed to the public.  On April 1, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court entered a supplemental Order extending the statewide judicial emergency through April 30, 2020.  This includes the staying of all evictions in residential landlord/tenant matters.

In light of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Order, the Chester County Court of Common Pleas has modified how the court system operates during this time.  All non-essential cases have been postponed through April 30, 2020; this includes the cancellation of all jury and non-jury trials, both civil and criminal.

Most importantly, criminal defendant’s right to a speedy trial pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 has been suspended.  Although a defendant still has a constitutional right to a speedy trial pursuant to both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions, the time period effected by the emergency judicial Orders due to COVID-19, will not be counted as part of the calculations for defendant’s speedy trial right.

To help alleviate and streamline the court process, the judges at the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, along with the Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and private defense counsel, have sought to reduce the Chester County Prison population by allowing incarcerated individuals with underlying health issues that might be exacerbated by COVID-19 to apply for emergency bail hearings for release.

However, litigants, both civil and criminal, should expect delays of an unknown time period before their matters can be resolved.  It is very important that if you are either a civil litigant or a criminal defendant to be in communication with your attorney to ascertain the impact that the emergency judicial orders by both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the President Judge of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas may have on your case.

On behalf of O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C., we hope that you and your family and loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented global pandemic.  If you need legal advice, please be aware that O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C. is still fully operational through telecommunication with electronic access to all of our files, and available to help serve your needs.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our firm at 610-323-2800.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog are not legal advice, and are not to be used for that purpose.  If you charged with a criminal offense, you should contact a lawyer immediately in the order to ensure that your rights are protected.  Thomas P. McCabe, Esquire is a licensed Pennsylvania lawyer, and does not purport to comment on any other jurisdiction in the United States of America. 

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